Katherine MacAlister has brunch Scandi style

FOOD goes in phases, always has, always will. From the heady days of fashionable French food and the likes of duck a l’orange or the more alpine Black Forest gateau and cheese fondues, to nouvelle cuisine, the curry heyday, and then Asian, Italian, and more recently Middle Eastern offerings, it seems it’s now the turn of our Scandinavian cousins.

Because after a dearth of Nordic eateries, they are opening faster than you can say smorgasbord, headed up by Kupp in John Lewis and the brand spanking new Ole & Steen.

But first up is Skogen Kitchen, an independent cafe which has just opened where Mission Burrito used to be on King Edward Street, off the High Street.

The long-term dream of Claire Anderrson who married a Swede and fell in love with his family and their cooking, she has finally put her money where her mouth is by serving traditional Swedish fare from such as Tapped Birch Water from Finland, which was really delicious and only 30 calories per carton.

You can also enjoy Fika (coffee and cake), breakfast or lunch, seven days a week, 9am-5pm.

We were, however, in time for the all-day Skogen Brunch (£9.95) which consisted of a seeded roll, beetroot salad, Scandi-cheese, cloudberry jam, tomatoes, cucumber, hard boiled egg and home-cured gravadlax or smashed avocado, and then a mini breakfast treat, more of which later.

Despite the tiny kitchen, everything was made on-site except for the fantastically soft, light roll from Cornfield Bakery and arrived on bright blue plates, pretty as a picture, the crimson of the beetroot contrasting with the yellow egg yolks, red tomatoes, bright jam, green cucumber and pale avocado arranged decorously.

But it wasn’t so much a sum of its parts as the individual flavours within that set it apart. The bread roll was superb, the sliced cheese salty with a bite, the jam fruity with a tang, the thinly sliced veg setting off the hard boiled eggs and the purple stain of the beetroots, a novel mixture of texture and taste.

Accompanied by some really top notch coffee, we perched in the window seats and were transported to the Swedish summerhouse where Claire learnt her craft.

It’s a small place mind you, couples in coats enjoying the last of the summer sun on tables outside, every space indoors full, an overspill room downstairs with charging points absorbing the extras, aimed at Oxford’s burgeoning student and “home” workforce.

My friend opted for the poached eggs and avocado served on sourdough toast with roasted cherry tomato (£7.95) and added salmon for £1.50, the ingredients doing the talking, the salmon wonderfully smoked, the eggs oozing with richness, the bread staunchly Nordic.

For my mini breakfast addition, the chocolate chia pudding and berries, wasn’t such a success; the frogspawny chia having sunk to the bottom of the glass serving dish and forming a hard base which was hard to permeate, and which I left.

Instead we were transfixed by the gorgeous looking cakes luring us towards the counter, eventually succumbing to the Tosca, a mouthwatering almondy, sticky and dense slice topped with caramel, much like a German apple cake, and then the cardamom bun, the spices rubbed between the layers like a Chelsea bun to give an exotic and highly unusual taste. At times a little chaotic, Claire’s cafe is a work in progress, but with plans for pop-up suppers and an events calendar in hand, looks set to settle in properly.

In the meantime, if you want to sample a true taste of Scandinavia, you need look no further than Skogen Kitchen.

Skogen Kitchen

2 King Edward St, Oxford

01865 580104